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When it comes to being a female solo traveler, there are many unnecessary questions we are asked on the road: where’s your husband? are you crazy? etc. We also experience harassment and violence while traveling abroad and at home. Due to the violent atmosphere, female solo travelers face at home and abroad (it’s estimated that 1 in 3 women worldwide has experienced sexual violence), it’s essential that women know how to protect themselves and be aware.
Note: This article isn’t overlooking inequality or implying that society does not need to change. It does. These tips and tricks offered are to help women be more aware and keep themselves safe as society slowly gets it together and starts to value women.
This is a safety tip you can utilize before you even start your journey. Many airlines have shared online that it’s really only essential to include your full name, email and phone number.
By including your home address on your luggage, you are notifying potential thieves of your home address and that your residence will be empty since you are traveling. There have also been rumors of illegal goods also being smuggled in luggage with the address on the luggage tag.
Know how to reach security, police
If there’s only one thing you take away from this article, let this be it. Know how to reach police and security in the country you’re visiting. You never know when you’ll have to reach them in an emergency, whether it be a violent altercation or an accident. Hopefully, you’ll never have to contact them, but be aware of what number to dial.
Here’s a complete list of emergency numbers listed by country from the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Ask locals about the safety of areas
In addition, locals know best when it comes to knowing the true safety of an area. Though looking at travel advisories is helpful, it’s important to note that any areas endure unfair stigmas. Don’t believe all travelers’ myths about an area. While in Colorado I was told that Rainbow Falls was a shady area with bad folks. Turns out, it was somewhat of a cultural hot spot for locals and tourists. While we were there, there were numerous people posing for Instagram photos and explore the bridge’s underbelly. I didn’t feel unsafe or uneasy about the falls at all.
Text someone your daily itinerary
Especially if you’re traveling solo, your friends and family might fret about your safety. To ease their minds, guarantee that you’ll check in with someone daily. It’s not only a good safety measure but also a way to feel a little less homesick too. Just a few words of encouragement from a loved one are sometimes is exactly what you need to hear to propel you through the day.
Trust your gut
This goes for all situations, domestic and abroad. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, steer clear of them. Many times I look to surround myself with other people. There’s true safety in numbers.
Don’t advertise you are alone
This is a common sense piece of advice, but I’d feel that this guide wouldn’t be complete without saying it. If people ever ask if I’m traveling solo, I say that I’m meeting up with a friend. That way they know someone is expecting me. It would deter them from engaging in any funny business, knowing that they could get caught. In Vieques, I had a taxi driver bother me because I was traveling solo. He was inappropriate and implying I would have a good time without my husband present, luckily I met up with a group of girls on the beach. He left me alone soon after that.
In the same fashion, if you’re feeling uneasy being alone, find a travel buddy! There are great hostel programs around the world for travelers to meet up and explore together. I always book through Hostel World. Otherwise, there are Facebook groups that you can utilize to find adventurers in areas close to you. One of my favorites is Girls LOVE Travel.
Don’t look flashy
If you look flashy, you’ll attract unwanted attention. Again, common sense. If people know you have a $1,000 camera, iPhone, or a big shiny engagement ring, they’re more likely to rob you than a person they have no idea what they are carrying.
Whether or not to wear your engagement ring while traveling has been a hot debate with female travelers. Some, wear a fake engagement ring to ward off unwanted attention from male travelers. Others, wear only their wedding band and forego their flashy diamonds in time for a big trip. And there are others like me who wear neither of them for the sake of not losing a precious and very sentimental piece of jewelry. Ultimately, it’s up to you, but you can find some guide reading these guide determining whether you should wear your ring abroad.
If you must carry expensive belongings, or don’t feel safe leaving them in your hostel/hotel, conceal them and keep them close. There are products such as money belts, where you can conceal extra cash. In the same manner, don’t flash around large bills. Using smaller bills creates less attention and it’s unlikely you’ll become a target.